Probate is a legal process that ensures the orderly distribution of a deceased person’s estate. While there are guidelines in place to make it a smooth and straightforward procedure, disputes can arise.
If a dispute does occur, it can cause complications for everyone involved. In such cases, the executor plays a central role in resolving conflicts and ensuring a fair distribution of assets.
Identifying the dispute
The first step for an executor when faced with a dispute during probate is to identify the nature and source of the disagreement. Disputes commonly revolve around issues such as the validity of the will, disagreements among heirs about the distribution of assets or claims by creditors against the estate. Clear identification of the problem is essential for devising an effective strategy.
Effective communication is key to resolving disputes, and the executor often plays the role of a mediator. Encouraging open and honest discussions among the concerned parties can help uncover the underlying issues and find common ground.
Obtaining professional assistance
In complex disputes, it may be necessary for the executor to seek professional assistance from qualified experts. Appraisers and accountants, in particular, frequently offer their expertise during probate proceedings. These professionals can provide valuable insights into the financial aspects of the estate.
Updating the court
If all attempts to resolve the dispute fail, the executor must update the court on the situation. The court will then decide the best course of action to resolve the conflict. Keeping the court informed is a legal obligation for the executor, ensuring transparency in the probate process.
Experts assert that probate can take up to two years from start to finish in some cases. Executors should prepare for the possibility that a dispute can arise at practically any time during this lengthy process.